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A little while ago I came to the sudden realisation that I wasn’t happy. I loved my relationship and my job, but I just wasn’t feeling the city where I was living. The time had come to move back to Cape Town. I didn’t want to resign however, so I approached Mich (aka the OBC captain) with the idea of working remotely.
I must admit, I wasn’t holding my breath. While our boss is very easygoing, I also recognised that expecting her to just trust that I’d be working and not hanging out on the beach all day was a big ask. After all, if you’re paying someone a salary it’s not unreasonable to want to see them earn it.
But aside from the obvious trust issues, she also had to take into account whether or not my decision to move would have a negative impact on our clients. Fortunately the majority of my communicating is done via email, so in the end Mich decided that it would not be a problem. Adding that it would be easy enough for me to fly up for the occasional meeting or business trip when necessary.
Generally when people are applying for a new job they’ll say just about anything to land the coveted position. We’ve all used the “I work well with people and on my own” line. Unfortunately in my case this is a blatant lie, because I really don’t play nicely in the sandpit. Even my kinesiologist said I should work by myself.
I’ve been back for three weeks now, and on the whole the experience has been fantastic. There’s definitely something to be said for creating your own happiness. There are, however, some things to take into account if you’re contemplating the shift from office to anywhere.
First and foremost, does your job even allow for such a move? I’m fortunate in that all I need to do what I do is a laptop and Internet connectivity.
Make sure you have a proper desk and ergonomically designed, adjustable chair. I’ve spent the last three weeks sitting on a bar stool at the kitchen counter, and my back and neck are suffering as a result of this less than adequate seating arrangement. This guideline offers some practical tips for setting up your computer and chair correctly. If at all possible ensure that you have a permanent work area that’s just for you. A makeshift or shared workspace means that you will always have to pack your things away at the end of the day.
I’ve spoken before about the importance of scheduling, but when working alone it’s even more imperative that you plan your day and then stick to it no matter what. Luckily I’m of an age and mindset where I feel too guilty to skive off during work hours (I hope you’re reading this Mich!), although had I been afforded this opportunity in my twenties…
The point is, when no-one is watching you you have to be your own fun police. I’ve found my Google calendar to be an enormous help in this regard. I arrange my day’s tasks into blocks of time the night before, and then leave the browser window open so I can easily refer back to it to check if I’m on course. The trick is in leaving it open though! It’s the old ‘out of sight out of mind’ adage.
Keeping your boss and colleagues in the loop is good business etiquette anyway, but when you’re no longer in the same office as them you need to be even more proactive in this regard. Skype and email are great for this, or if you’re feeling retro you can always pick up the phone.
Working remotely won’t suit everyone, but if you can make it work for you there are definite benefits for both parties.
By eliminating the daily commute to and from work I not only have more time for myself, but I invariably start work earlier than I did when I was going to the office everyday as well.
I do miss the company of my co-workers, but not being distracted by office chit-chat means I get more done.
For companies, having some (or all) of your staff work from home can translate into huge savings.
Less office space means less rent.
Rather than having to take a day off, staff with children will still be able to work when their kids are home sick.
Sick leave will be greatly reduced as staff won’t come into the office and infect their co-workers.
If effected correctly, it can be a win/win situation for both parties.